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8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

8 Lessons 30 Somethings Wish They Could Tell Their 25 Year-Old Selves

Turning 25 is an often forgot about milestone that truly marks our entrance into adulthood. While it is true that the only things we can do at 25 is lower our car insurance rates, or purchase life insurance before the cost goes up, it also marks a time in life when we start on the path toward figuring out who we are. When we enter our 30s there are several pieces of advice we wish we could give to our 25 year old selves during that important year.

1. DO allow your passion to define you instead of job titles and descriptions

Passion is an intense emotion that we experience when we feel incredibly enthusiastic about something that we deeply care about. Our passions are supposed to be the creative and driving forces behind our actions. Ideally, the work we do for a living should nicely align with what we are passionate about. However, there are times when our passions are diminished by job titles that determine the value we bring to the world. We become defined as assistants, directors, service representatives, or managers and not as creators, learners, healers, artists, poets, inventors, scholars, activists, or thinkers. Therefore, someone in their thirties wishes he could tell his 25 year old self to be your passion and not your job.

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2. DON’T let fear prevent you from asking for what you want

Fear is a powerful emotion that can prevent us from having the lives that we dream of when we become too afraid to ask for what we want. This fear arises when we feel we run the risk of being told no, or having to sacrifice something in return for what we ask for. Then it feels more safe to not pursue what we want, rather than have our dreams be blown up by rejection or tainted by concessions. Yet, many people in their thirties lament all of things they could have had if they’d only asked for it when they were 25 – an increase of pay or change of job title, a relationship with someone they’d loved but never pursued, support for an innovative business venture, etc.

3. DO judge success by how you feel, and not by what you have

When we become adults, we begin to strive for those things that indicate we’ve reached a level of success and maturity within our lives – the nice car, comfortable home, fancy clothes, and a high paying job. Every day we are inundated with messages from television, print ads, music, family and friends that tell us what it means to be successful, and over time we may stop listening to the internal messages that help us define success for ourselves. Then a day may come when we look at all of the things we have accumulated while simultaneously asking ourselves “Who am I and what do I want?” Many 30 somethings wish they could tell their 25 year old selves to take time to listen to those internal messages that will help them to answer those questions.

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4. DON’T speak about your gifts, talents, and interests in the past tense

We each have unique talents, gifts and interests. Yet, as we get older many of the things that we love to do or study fall to the wayside as we become bogged down by everyday living and responsibilities. When others ask us about our interests, creative ventures, or hobbies we may shrug and say, “Well I used to enjoy writing but can’t find the time to do it as much as I used to,” or “I used to love to travel, but haven’t done it in years.” Yet, our 25 year old selves should know that when we allow our gifts, talents and interest to become parts of our past, we miss out on those aspects of ourselves that make us unique.

5. DO appreciate the love that comes in unexpected ways

To love and be loved can be a transformative experience because it adds a special and intangible value to our lives. As cliché as it sounds, love can turn bad days into bearable ones, convert tears to smiles, and give purpose to the aimless. Often, we hope to find love through our relationships with a significant other, hoping that he or she will complete a part of our lives that feels empty. However, as we search for that forever love with that special someone, we may overlook the other types of love that have the power to transform us and our lives. Unconditional love can be found through the sincerity of long time soul friendships, or by developing extremely close and loving bonds with family members. It can be found in community, whether it is spiritual, neighborhood-based, artistic, or activist.

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6. DON’T allow the opinions of others to cloud your decision making

We’ve all experienced being incredibly excited about a new idea, venture, or decision to then have someone we love relentlessly pellet us with doubting questions. In those moments, it feels like the wind was knocked out of our sails and the air let out of our balloons. One instant we are so invested in our visions, and then someone shares their opinion about our choices and we question ourselves, or don’t follow through on a plan. However, although our loved ones think they know what’s best for us, if we always let their opinions change our minds we could be missing out on those special moments in life. Our 25 year old versions would want to know that it is important to hold on to the dreams that excite us and put the wind in our sails.

7. DO recognize when it’s time to discard old baggage and expired relationships

There’s a well known adage that says, “people come into our lives for a reason, season, or lifetime.” However, can we tell the difference between those relationships that are to last for a season those that are for a lifetime? Many of us hold on to friendships and intimate, familial, and work-based relationships that suited well us in the past, yet presently stall our personal and professional growth. Some of our relationships can begin to feel one-sided, where we give much and receive very little in return. Other times our relationships begin to feel like a contest where our loved-ones put us down, do not express happiness about our achievements, or find fault with our decisions. Many 30 somethings want to tell their 25 year old selves to let go of expired relationships to focus on more significant relationships and endeavors.

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8. DON’T judge your mistakes, but find the lesson in them

One man’s mistake is another man’s lesson, and when we learn from our mistakes we give ourselves permission to recognize our own humanity. As we get older, we have to make more and more decisions in our lives as we take on more responsibilities. Therefore, mistakes are to be expected because we cannot foresee the outcome of every choice we make. Yet, when we make mistakes we often berate ourselves what we did wrong rather than asking what we could do differently in the future to prevent a similar outcome.

Featured photo credit: Mateusz Stachowski via freeimages.com

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Last Updated on August 12, 2020

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

How to Listen to Your Gut

The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

1. Tune Into Your Body

Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

7. Trust Yourself

It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

The Bottom Line

The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
[2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
[3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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